E:60Journalism ShowcaseStarting 5

Buster Olney Discovers the Root of Who Baseball Star Mike Trout Is

Mike Trout sits down with Buster Olney (ESPN/VIn Cannamela)

Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout is arguably the greatest player in baseball but fans rarely hear from him. However, the All-Star agreed to sit down with ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney for an E:60 airing this Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN.

“As (producer) Vin Cannamela and I made our pitch in recent years to the Angels, I wrote an email about how great it would have been to have a long-form television piece on Willie Mays in 1954, or Hank Aaron in 1957, early in their respective careers,” said Olney. “Because that is who Trout is to baseball right now — he is Willie Mays, he is Hank Aaron, he is Babe Ruth.”

Despite delivering a strong pitch, Olney and Cannamela received a no.

“When we got a ‘no,’ I thought it was important and respectful to not push; I always felt like there could be a time when it could happen,” said Olney. “So I asked annually, and eventually, the timing was right, and the process couldn’t have been more enjoyable.”

Over the past year Olney spent significant time with not only Mike, but also his wife, his siblings and his mom and dad.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Trouts — the whole family — because they are a lot of fun, and the laughs come easily,” said Olney.

Admittedly a “big dog person,” Olney said he really enjoyed learning of one of Mike’s many superstitions.

Trout exchanges a series of text messages with his mom and dad and wife before and after every game. A surprise to some, those texts have nothing to do with baseball.

“When we taped the incoming text messages/facetime with his parents, we learned that Trout had gotten into habit/routine/superstition of asking where his folks’ dog Hank was,” said Olney. “Deb Trout (Mike’s mom) has to turn the phone around to show Hank, as part of Mike’s (pregame) process.”

Olney said the text exchanges were an immediate clue about why Mike is the way that he is.

“Some folks in our industry have said to me that he’s boring, and I flatly disagree, said Olney. “He’s not boring, he’s happy. And I believe that his upbringing, his relationship with his family, his wife and all the comfort he draws from the routine of his small-town life in Millville, N.J. is at the root of who he is as a person and as an all-time great player.”

Journalism On Display 

On the Sunday, July 29, SC Featured, “Raising the Bar” tells the story of how paralyzed former Olympic high jumper Jamie Nieto defies medical odds in hopes of walking his fiancée down the aisle. The segment will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter.